Mountain beaver

brunosonio(z7WA)May 15, 2005

Help! I have a mountain beaver who is destroying my garden and I can't get rid of him!

The mountain beaver is a little known rodent who is indigenous to the pacific northwest. They are typically found on woodland slopes next to streams, which is exactly the back of our home. After we installed a stone patio and lush garden, we noticed a lot of tunneling. Thinking we had moles, I put out an inground vibrator that was supposed to annoy the moles away. Soon afterward I noticed missing plants - many cut down to the ground with just an inch or so of stem left. One night while dining outside with friends around dusk, we noticed a plant about 3-4 feet tall move from side to side then disappear. There was the creature with the plant in its mouth heading toward the woods. That is the only time I ever saw it clearly - it had dark fur and looked like a muskrat without a tail. Apparently they do not see or hear very well.

Last season it systematically went through my plants. It first enjoyed the lilies I planted - one but one they all succumbed. Then it was hostas, follwoed by toad lilies, masterwort, monkshood (which I thought was poisonous), and japanese anenomes. Curiously, he has never touched a single hydrangea, of course this plant requires the most water of anything in my garden! He nibbled on rhodies and sword fern. He also did not touch the spiderwort or fucshias. He even tried to burrow into pots!!! By winter I figured he'd hibernate but he instead chose to eat Fatsia, sarcoccoa, and acuba.

I was todl the typical things used to get rid of mol;es will not work and was advised to set a live trap using sliced apples as bait. I caught an opossum, a squirrel, and our dog - no mountain beaver. No that new plants are coming in, he is back with a vengeance.

I used the dog to find his main burrow deeper int he woods. The dog went in after him but did not get him.

I used smopke bombs also.

I am at a loss as to what to do.

Any ideas?

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If the border of the property it comes across is comparatively short maybe you could fence it out, including a buried portion of fencing, of course.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 7:58PM
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The border of the property is pretty steep. I thought about a barrier but the yard has a terraced section that is about thre or four feet higher on one level than the other and is held up wiht a stone wall - he either burrowed throught that or climbed the wall or the stairs to get the plants up there.

It is very frustrating - obviously.

Thanks for your feedback.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 8:06PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Mt Beaver may have been little known to you, to many of us they are quite familiar.

Read the following link, then contact your nearest county extension agent...I don't know if the contact information here is still up to date.

Maybe we could pair your mountain beaver with the racoon that chirped and whirred at me on my deck at 7:30 this morning....first time I've had one of those visit. As I was clapping my hands at it and telling it to go home, it casually stopped to dig at my lawn with both front feet, looking for breakfast.

Here is a link that might be useful: controlling Mt Beaver

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 11:06PM
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Dave Pehling, extension agent Snohomish County, has good directions on trapping. I think they are on line but he emailed them to me when I couldn't get the mountain beaver here the way I was doing the trapping.

You need to place the trap right at/almost in the entrance to the active burrow in the early evening. There should be no way around it. I wiggled the wire trap floor slightly into the loose dirt at the burrow opening. Make sure the trigger works easily and the door will still close. Then cover the whole trap and burrow opening with some dark covering.We used an old rug. That way the critter just tootles up out of the burrow and is in the cage before it even realizes it.
I caught ours the first time that I did the trapping correctly.

You need to check for the active entrance first. Place a small dry twig upright in the middle of the entrance hole. If it gets broken or moved you know that is the active hole.
Sometime you can see the plants from your garden partially dragged into the hole. Some have back doors, using one as entrance and another for exit.

You have my sympathy, I lost whole cardiocrinum, oriental lillies, gunnera and more!

Just watched a show on TV about how whole ecosystems have changed just because large predators have been eliminated.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 12:51AM
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I don't think these things are going to overrun us anytime soon - quite the opposite, in fact. We snared one and kept it as a pet for awhile. The act that got our uninvited attention was clipping off our rhododendrons - another toxic plant that apparently isn't a problem for them.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 1:53AM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

Would a water scarecrow work? It would be an easy thing to try.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 11:17AM
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kendal(8 PNW)

We have several dens in the hill that is behind our house, we have a high chain link fence in front of the hill, but it doesn't stop them. I noticed one got my camellia, at least part of it, but that was before I sprayed my garden with caster oil; it's supposed to give the voles stomach aches and keep them away. It works, but you have to use it every 6 weeks. I do like seeing the burrows and having wild animals around, but I also like my gardens. I had one den on part of my little hill that is on my side of the fence, but it collapsed. It seems there are so many in this small area that the hill is caving in. It's really our own fault as we are invading their turf more and more. I'm trying to learn to live with them, but the caster oil just drives them next door to my annoying neighbors place, and more power to the voles and beavers as they are gone 6 months out of the year and don't take good care of the place.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 11:37AM
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